Times are hard for Quebeckers, and bad debtors are more and more felt in the coffers of Hydro-Quebec, which now expects them to drop from single to double by the end. of the year.
“We have never experienced a situation of this magnitude,” admitted yesterday the Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of Hydro-Quebec, Jean-Hugues Lafleur, on the occasion of the presentation of the third quarter results. . We are truly in uncharted territory. “
Year in and year out, Hydro-Québec has to deal with defaults of an average value of $ 90 million. Half of this shortfall is attributable to residential accounts.
However, this year, the Crown corporation predicts that the total value of defaults will reach “between $ 170 million and $ 180 million”, or double what it is used to. This shortfall would constitute a historic record.
We have to go back to the aftermath of the 2008-09 crisis to approach such a level of non-recovery. In 2010, confirms its spokesperson Maxence Huard-Lefebvre, bad consumer debts had reached $ 138 million.
Anticipating the blow, Hydro revealed yesterday that it had increased its provision for risk of non-collection to $ 114 million. This is an increase of $ 54 million over the $ 60 million last year at the same date. 60% of this increase is attributable to defaults of companies or institutions.
But that’s not all. The phenomenon is expected to gain momentum as, in the coming weeks, government aid programs dry up. “All of this is closely linked,” says Jean-Hugues Lafleur. Thus, the shortfall for non-payment of invoices should reach $ 170 million by the end of December.
In the last quarter, ended September 30, Hydro-Québec’s net income amounted to $ 203 million, close to the $ 205 million recorded at the same date last year.
Since the start of 2020, however, Hydro has still lagged its 2019 profit by $ 435 million. Electricity consumption fell 4% in Quebec compared to the first nine months of 2019.
Outside Quebec, Hydro-Quebec’s electricity exports fell by $ 151 million to $ 1,004 million. This decline is mainly the result of mild temperatures in spring and the impact of the pandemic.